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This Fair City - "Broken Surfaces"

Legbamel Not-Pop

Portland, Oregon-based This Fair City described themselves and their first album, “Broken Surfaces”, thus in the e-mail they sent to me:

“[T]he album features haunting viola backed by strong guitar and wailing vocals. Think Fugazi mixed with Sunny Day Real Estate ala [sic] Eastern Block. [It's a] moody, salty-sweet mix of biting lyrics and rock chaos soften [sic] by the viola”.
Were the vocals and guitar crisper, I'd say that the Fugazi reference was right on the money. This Fair City displays a similar but even more disconnected sound. On some tracks, it seems as though the various members have chosen different songs to play that happen to be the same length, so little structure is there in the music.

This Fair City's most successful moments on their EP come in songs like Quite Frankly, when they mellow out and Jason Franklin sings with the band instead of fighting to howl the lyrics over the guitar. The seven-minute-plus final track, In Transit, has some nice moments, when everyone is heading the same direction and you can understand Mr. Franklin. It's the wilder opening tracks that don't hold up as well, with the instruments each doing their own thing and the lyrics buried beneath them. I found it difficult to catch enough words to select a quote for this review, in fact.

If This Fair City shifts their focus to sounding like themselves rather than trying to be an emo band playing post-punk, they may find their groove and have some interesting things to say. If you'd like to listen for yourself, you can head over to the Union Records site and download the album or just pop over to the band's MySpace page. Let me know what you think of This Fair City, if you do. I'm curious to hear how other people receive them.

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